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14-year-old accused of killing Chesterfield store owner to be tried as adult

Posted at 1:27 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 13:29:12-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The 14-year-old boy accused of murdering a Chesterfield convenience store owner will be charged as an adult, according to a Chesterfield County prosecutors. The 14-year-old's name has not yet been released, due to his age.

He is charged with the murder of Harshad Patel. Patel was shot multiple times and died in January at his Marketplace convenience store at 6811 Walmsley Boulevard, according to police. The 14-year-old suspect, whose case will head to a grand jury next week, is one of four suspects in Patel's murder.

Thomas Jennings, 18, and Trayvon Wilhite, 19, both appeared in Chesterfield County General District Court Thursday morning. During their appearances, detectives said Wilhite confessed to pulling the trigger and killing Patel during an attempted robbery.

Surveillance video showed Jennings walk into the store first and have a conversation with Patel. Wilhite, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, followed behind with a 25-caliber gun. Wilhite then leaned over the counter and shot Patel as he crouched down, the video showed.

A fourth suspect, also inside the store during the crime, remains on the run.

Patel recently became a naturalized citizen and moved his wife and young twin girls to the United States. His wife was inside the courtroom Thursday. A family friend said she wanted to see her husband’s alleged killers in person.

"[Killed for] no reason, man,” friend Louis Galaviz said. “He has a family. I've got pain in my heart."

Jennings’ case was continued to April 14. Wilhite’s case was certified to a grand jury.

Anyone with information on the fourth suspect should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.